Tuesday, July 18, 2006

US government told to take its hands off internet

US government told to take its hands off internet | The Register
Kieren McCarthy analyses in this article the responses to the USG's request for consultation on ICANN - in light of the expiration of the MoU under which ICANN operates. Interestingly, almost 2/3s of the responses that were on target (ignoring the ones that didn't refer to ICANN) were supportive of the USG removing itself from the running of the Internet and its oversight role, suggesting that it be handed over to an international organisation (not necessarily the UN).

ICANN itself didn't come off very well, as many respondents thought that ICANN is not doing very well, with quite a few suggesting that ICANN be disbanded, because it's failed at getting bottom-up input, (as well as being non-transparent).

So that's an indictment of the ALAC, of which I am a member (albeit a newbie, about 6 months) whose job it is to put in place a system for representation of end-users. Now, many people believe that the only way for end-users to be represented is by direct vote. Those are mainly USians. This is interesting, as the US itself does not have direct elections for President... electoral college anyone?

I think that the structure as proposed by ICANN can work in many parts of the world. We have begun to build those structures - Africam Asia Pacific, LAC and Europe are all in advanced stages of building the Regional At Large Organisations (RALOS) - a bit late, as not much was done in the past 3 years, and I can see that people looking in from the outside can say that we've not managed to do it.

But I have to remind them that nothing really happens before its time. The fact that all 4 RALOs are being organised now (mostly bottom up) reflects the potential for success of the structure - 4 years ago many people in LAC didn't know anything much about ICANN, far less why they should join.
The WSIS did raise conciousness, and now there's momentum. The challenge is to get things going fast, before we lose that momentum.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Domain tasting - what it's about and why it's bad

This blog talks about the domain tasting scheme. Basically, ICANN allows refunds on domain registrations that are dropped within 5 days. This is cool, cause sometimes you make a mistake, a misspelling or something when registering a domain name.

BUT, what has happened is that people have decided to scam this, by registering thousands of domain names, putting up ad sites, dropping the domain before the 5 days, and keeping the ad revenue.

And what happens now, is that groups of people are rotating domain names and using serious computing power to do this. So if I look up a domain on a registrar's site that participates in this, and don't register it right away, I may come back in a hour or 2 and realise that the name is gone. If I check, it'll be an ad site. And of course, I can't keep checking to see exactly when it's released to be able to register it, so that's it for me and my domain name. However, they can cycle among themselves...

And of course, when I am just searching online for something, often the first page of results is full of these ad or link farms. So, I waste time and bandwidth to find what I want.

Joi Ito has a nice blog entry on this with some cool links. He's an ICANN Board member. I'm an ALAC member, and ALAC is looking into the impact of this on the Internet User Community.

More on this in the future

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Luddites take over in Trinidad and Tobago

I included the whole thing as the Guardian doesn't give permalinks.

Why are we going backwards? There's so many studies that indicate that there is NO radiation threat from the towers, TATT themselves are testing the radiation and finding NONE. The Town and Country Planning process is slow and holding back progress, adn rather than fixing the process to help the country move forward, the Govt decides to tear down the towers and take us back to the dark ages. What next? How do we get to 2020?

There seems to be a reactionary movement against science, technology and industrial development in this country.

But everyone wants to talk on their phone. Everyone wants microwaves, big screen TVs in every room in the house including the bedroom,... these are far worse for health over hte long term than any cell tower.

If this trend continues, I may have to move back to the US - I am not going to stay in a country that is going backwards at the speed this one seems to be... and Bush will be gone, so it will be safe for me to return!


Read the article now:

After notices to Digicel and TSTT have not been complied with, the Government intends to call in the army to remove illegal cell sites


The Army will be called in to remove 16 illegal cell sites belonging to both Digicel and TSTT if the companies do not do so themselves.

So said Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis when she addressed members of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce at Westmoorings yesterday.

Robinson-Regis said notices were sent to the service providers giving them 28 days to comply with the order to dismantle the illegal sites, and the clock was running. She could not say how many days had already passed.

She said later that she had notified the Minister of National Security Martin Joseph, calling for the army’s help in removing the towers.

He added that the army had the necessary skills to remove the towers in such a way that the companies would not lose their investments.

“We did have a meeting with the companies about the locations of the towers and they did give an undertaking that once the towers were not within the planning policy that they would remove them,” she said.

“They have not done that and we find this difficult to understand since we said we were giving them the opportunity to remove the towers themselves.

“We did not want to go to the stage of enforcement, but we have reached that stage.”

The Minister said that an injunction was taken out restraining the ministry from removing two towers, so that matter would be going to court and would only delay the inevitability of the towers being removed.

She said found it preposterous that an interest group was giving her seven days to meet with it to discuss the cell tower issues.

“It has met with the Director of Town and Country Division and has aired it concerns,” she said.

“I have not received any correspondence for a meeting from it, except for what was in the media...I will not be responding to any threats.”

She said the ministry had mapped all the cell towers and have indicated to the owners the ones that were illegal.

But even as she talked of the strong action against cell towers, the minister later said that the nationwide problem of squatting had not stopped in spite of a law against it.

“The Army will not be used to remove them,” she joked.

Also addressing the breakfast meeting were Sheryl-Anne Haynes, acting director of Town and Country Planning Division and Vidjaya Ramkhalawan of the EMA.

When contacted yesterday evening, TSTT manager, communications and marketing, Amoy Van Lowe could not confirm whether TSTT had received any notice from the Ministry.

She also could not say how the removal of the cell sites would affect TSTT’s network as she was unsure whether TSTT would have to remove more than one tower.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Are Made for AdSense Sites Ruining Search Results?

A really nice discussion of what domain monetisation really means to the end users, to the small website owners, and in general, everyone who USES the web.

HTML version available at: http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2006/jun/30.html

By Adam McFarland of iPrioritize.com (http://www.iprioritize.com) (c) 2006

It's happened to you. You've searched for something on Google
and several promising results appear. You click on a link, but
when you get to the site all you see are a few ads and nothing
even remotely close to what you searched for. So you go back to
the search results and try again, only it happens again and
again until you finally find a page with some decent content...
or frustration sets in and you give up all together.

Why does this happen? How come in this day and age Google can't
give you the results you're looking for? A large part of the
answer is the growing number of made for AdSense (MFA) sites on
the web today. MFA sites are designed for the sole purpose of
getting you to click on a Google AdSense advertisement.

Define Made for AdSense

A site is made for AdSense if its sole purpose is to get users
to click on AdSense ads. Its owners don't intend that users will
learn from its content or participate in a community. All that
they want is for them to click on an ad.

A site is NOT made for AdSense if its primary purpose is to
provide unique content and the site owner decides to keep their
content free by displaying advertisements, AdSense or other.
This has been going on for years - television, newspapers, and
magazines all generate revenue with advertisements. The
difference is that the advertisements SUPPLEMENT the content of
the show or article. The same applies for the web. If you have a
news site or a forum, placing ads on your site does not make it
a made for AdSense site.

Why Do People Make MFA Sites?

The thing with MFA sites is that they work. The overwhelming
majority of the population has no clue what Google AdSense is
and doesn't understand that Google and the site owner make money
when they click on an ad. By placing these ads in locations that
people tend to focus on (Google gives you examples of locations
that result in the highest click-through), it's inevitable that
a certain percentage of visitors will click on the ads - either
intentionally or unintentionally.

Site owners make anywhere from five cents to several dollars per
click (revenue is split between them and Google) depending on the
industry. Big deal right? If you convert 5% of users into clicks
and you make 10 cents a click, you're only making 50 cents for
every hundred visitors to your site. Well if you make a thousand
MFA sites and each gets two hundred visitors a day, you are
making a cool $1,000/day.

Smart MFA site owners design sites with keywords that advertisers
pay more than the standard 20 cents or 30 cents. They design
sites with "content" about lawyers and car companies that
purchase AdWords advertisements that cost several dollars a
click. Re-do that calculation with five dollars a click instead
of 10 cents and your jaw will drop.

How do they get their traffic? In addition to using conventional
white hat SEO methods (like unique content and link building),
many of these sites shamelessly also take advantage of keyword
stuffing and cloaking - tactics that are considered unethical
and are against Google's terms of service. Many also get their
clicks in unethical ways - either by clicking on ads themselves
or by employing bots to automatically click. This is called
click fraud and is also against Google's terms of service.

Who Gets Hurt?

Some would argue that no one is getting hurt by "tricking"
people into clicking. Hey they're not getting charged anything.
No, but some advertiser is. Some business that's pouring their
hard earned money into Google AdWords to attract TARGETED
visitors to their site. Instead they end up paying for
accidental clicks.

You (the searcher) also get hurt by getting less than optimal
results. Imagine an internet where these sites didn't exist. You
might actually have a chance at finding what you're looking for
on the first try. That would save you some time that I'm sure
you'd be glad to have.

Should Google Do Something About It?

Everyone's first thought is "Google could stop it if they tried."
In reality, probably not. Regardless of the talent they recruit,
there are literally hundreds of thousands of people trying to
figure out a work around. As Seth Jayson recently said in his
article about the same topic entitled "How Google is Killing the
Internet" (http://www.fool.com/news/commentary/2006/commentary06060927.htm)
"I think when you pit a few hundred Google Smarty Pantses -- who
are getting fat on stock options and gourmet meals at the Big
Goo campus -- against many thousand enterprising schemers on
the Internet, the battle will go to those hungry schemers every

Google does have a system in place to reduce click fraud and are
always improving their algorithm to rid their results of sites
that practice cloaking, keyword stuffing, and other black hat
SEO techniques. Unfortunately, it's probably not enough.

The larger (and much scarier) question is whether or not Google
wants to do something about it. For the time being, they stand
to make a ton of money off of MFA sites. Until Google starts to
see a negative impact from MFA sites there's really no reason
for them to rush to do anything about it. Say Yahoo! all of a
sudden came up with a way to identify and block MFA sites and
provided better search results because of it, Google may be
threatened by the potential (or actual) loss of search percentage.
But until that happens I wouldn't expect Google to do much more
than they are right now.

What Can You Do?

There's no doubt that MFA sites have clogged up the web with
thousands of worthless pages. The best way to reduce the number
of made for AdSense sites is probably to do something about it
yourself. If you advertise on Google AdWords, don't allow Google
to display your ads on their content network (AdSense sites). As
an internet user, you can educate others about MFA sites and
encourage them not to click on ads. It may not seem like much,
but all of those clicks add up - just ask someone who owns a
made for AdSense site.


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The internet needs YOU! | The Register

Kieren McCarthy has a really cool article on the NTIA request - time is short, so please, please go and make your views known!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

NTIA: NOI: DNS Transition Comments

NTIA: NOI: DNS Transition Comments

This is really important in the next week, comments are due by uly 7, with a public consultation to happen July 26.

You can also comment on the ALAC's submission.

Back to real life - no more World Cup

So, Trinidad and Tobago is back home, as is Argentina and shock of shocks, Brasil. So my World Cup is over - not sure who I want to win less, England or Germany. But I won't be getting into that now.

Just back from the ICANN meeting in Marrakech. Lovely place, excellent shopping, even if the bargaining is tiring.

ICANN's hot topics at the meeting:
  • NTIA consultation on ICANN
  • IDNs
  • IGF
  • Strategy Committee

ALAC's moving forward - Africa and LAC regions have started moves toward building the regional organisations (RALOS) and Asia Pacific is ready to enter the MOU with ICANN. Europe is moving ahead, having done a really good consultation in Frankfurt recently.

I'll update with a lot more on the Marrakech meeting in a bit.

The new Board of Directors of IGovTT

The new Board of Directors of  IGovTT  was presented with congratulatory letters by The Honourable Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Admini...